Pirate Museum Moves to New Florida Digs

Posted Apr 15th 2011 02:00 PM

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pirate museum florida

St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

Avast Ye Mateys! Fans of all things pirate will want to visit a newly opened museum in the historic Florida city of St. Augustine.

The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is the brainchild of former Philadelphia 76ers president Pat Croce, who has a passion for both basketball and pirates.

"It just happened when I was a kid. I fell in love with Errol Flynn and "Captain Blood" movies," Croce tells AOL Travel News. "I would write a skull and cross bones in notebooks, and the nuns would smack me. And I was a pirate for Halloween as a kid."

As his wealth grew from businesses, Croce, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, started collecting pirate artifacts including one of only two original Jolly Roger flags known to exist (the other is in Finland), the only authentic pirate chest in America, a journal from Captain Kidd's last journey, and real weapons and pieces of eight.


St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

About six years ago, Croce opened Pirate Soul in Key West to display his collection, with exhibits featuring not only memorabilia but Disney Imagineer-designed animatronics, interactive displays and technologies such as creepy 3-D sound, all used in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Piracy (1690-1730).

The museum was popular, but given Key West's somewhat remote location, hours from Miami, it didn't attract the family and school group tourist crowd that Croce was hoping for, he says. He decided to close up shop and move the museum to St. Augustine in northern Florida, the oldest city and port in the U.S.

"I love Key West. I have a home in Key West. But you go there to party. In St. Augustine, heritage is number one. And families go there."


St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum

The former museum's exhibits are back in the St. Augustine venue. But there are also new displays outlining local routes where famous pirates walked the streets, plundered and pillaged – Sir Francis Drake and Robert Searles even burnt St. Augustine to the ground in 1586 and 1688, respectively.

Added attractions at the new museum, which is located across from a 17th century fort, also include a participatory treasure hunt, 17th century cannons that fire (in electronically simulated fashion) and pirate movie memorabilia.

"We now have Hollywood pirates, props from "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Hook," and "The Goonies," Croce says. "I took it up a notch."

Movie items on display include Captain Jack Sparrow's sword and cursed Aztec coin and Captain Hook's hook.

Among nearly 800 museum-quality artifacts are borrowed historical items from the State of Florida collection including gold, rings, jewels and sword handles.

Croce is still collecting too.

"I just got some really cool coins from the 1715 fleet off the east coast of Florida," he says.



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James Anderson

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July 16 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
euewe

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April 17 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim costlow

Better than I expected,there is no other place in north Florida you can experience HANDS ON AND TOUCH such rich and exciting History.thank you Pat Croce. Sincerely Captain Tim "Treasure Pirate"

April 17 2011 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bethie

I live in Key West. I do believe that it is a party town, but it is a great family town also. If you are just "one of the folks" and get to know the island and locals, no place on Earth beats it. As far as Pirate Soul not making it here in Key West. The location was the biggest drawback. It was placed on a street that is just enough off the beat not to be seen, between Mr Croce's restaurant and a store that specializes in sex toys and clothing. If he had placed it else where, perhaps closer to the Mel Fisher Museum or Clinton Square I think he would have been more successful. There is a toy store in Clinton Square that is doing fine. I wish him well in St. Augustine.

April 16 2011 at 3:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jean

This is wonerful! I love anything to do with history and pirateering is part of history and what wonderful town to do this in but none other than the oldest town in the U.S.!?!??! Pirates visited there also. I can't wait to go back to St. Augustine an see this! Thank you so much!

April 16 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jean

I think this would be wonderful! I like all that is relate to history and pirateering is history! When I go to St. Augustine I definitely will see this. This town is a wonderful place for this.

April 16 2011 at 1:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jabs Holt

Weres Jack Sparrow : )

April 16 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Gail

well i remeber being in key west on oceanography field trip and i didnt have time to see this museum but it looked like a really cool place to go. I think its buisness wasnt so good because its next door neighbor was a adult sex shop

April 16 2011 at 1:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Gail's comment
bethie

Exactly what I said above. It was the location, not the town.

April 16 2011 at 3:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bethie's comment
Michael

Bethie, I am a local living elsewhere right now and miss my island, you sound like a good KW
Islander, please keep it ready for me to return before too long.
an Artist missing KW

April 17 2011 at 8:09 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
fareeq

Well arrrrrgggg! Now I know and will be there real soon:)

April 16 2011 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
annedyth

Wow! Seeing something like this, makes me want to travel again! I would love to see it, it's great!

April 16 2011 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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